Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) an acquired degenerative retinal disease which causes impairment of central vision. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.8 million Americans over the age of 40 are estimated to have some form of AMD. By 2020, that estimation is expected to rise to 2.95 million. AMD has been recognized as one of the leading causes of blindness among individuals 60 years and older.
Risk factors include:
● Age (>60 years old)
● European ancestry
● Cigarette smoke
● Unprotected UV exposure
● Poor nutrition
● Certain health conditions (high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease)
Symptoms of AMD vary depending on the form and stage. In the early stages, many patients are asymptomatic. However, in general, symptoms will typically include distortion or loss of central, straight ahead vision while peripheral (or side vision) remains intact. So persons with AMD will tend to struggle with driving, reading, seeing fine details and faces, etc.
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form is the more common type, and, depending on the stage of it, certain eye vitamins (such as, AREDSII) may be recommended. The wet form is usually treated with either laser surgery or intravitreal eye injections. For both forms, there is currently no known cure at this time. So treatment and management of AMD is usually to either maintain or prevent further vision loss.
For anyone with AMD or who has a high risk for developing AMD, it is recommended to see your eye care provider once yearly at the minimum. It is also recommended to avoid cigarette smoke, wear UV protection, and have a diet high in antioxidants and leafy green vegetables. Although there is currently no cure for AMD, certain magnifiers and low vision aids can help patients with AMD maximize their vision.
-Dr. Eugene Pak